For more than a quarter century the members of Slayer have reigned as Southern California’s most respected thrash metal band. Founding members and guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, along bassist/vocalist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo are still bringing their musical brutality to the fans almost three decades since their 1981 inception. Last year’s release of World Painted Blood proved that the band is not only still at the top of their game, but shows they still have something to say after all this time.
Of the legendary Big Four Godfathers of Thrash, which also includes Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, Slayer is arguably the most respected in terms of remaining true to their origins, and keeping the thrash flag flying high. Their place in the history of metal is firmly established. “Well, we’re definitely acknowledged. Which is a plus,” says Dave Lombardo, Slayer’s Godfather of the double-bass drum. “I think it’s great. It’s great that we’ve been around for so long. I think I see us as hopefully a standard of music, at least thrash metal.”
As the band prepares for a massive summer of touring in support of their new record, World Painted Blood, Dave Lombardo took a few minutes to talk past, present, and future with Metalholic.
Metalholic: Looking back, if you could change any one thing along the way, what would it be?
Dave Lombardo: Everything happens for a reason and I think that even when I left, let’s say, I don’t regret that because that has helped me as a musician. So as far as Slayer goes I have no regrets, no.”
MH: What are you most proud of in the history of Slayer?
DL: Not only our longevity, but some of the records we’ve put out. Of course Reign In Blood followed by South of Heaven and Seasons In The Abyss, and now with World Painted Blood, this record, it’s another thing to be proud of.
MH: 2010 is a huge year for you guys and thrash metal in general. You have the crushing new album, and you’ve got some huge shows this summer including the American Carnage Tour, Sonisphere, etc… How you guys are feeling at this point?
DL: You know, I don’t know about the other guys, but as for me I feel youthful, I feel like I’m ready to destroy and just pummel those drums. Just absolutely crush them. At least, that’s how I feel personally. The other guys, I feel there’s some enthusiasm especially with Kerry. I saw Kerry at Frankfurt Music Fair and he said that he was excited to just get on a plane and go to like the European version of the Namm show. So I think both he and I are anxious to play, and we were discussing some of the songs that we might be playing and we have to rehearse and re-learn because we’ve probably never played them since we recorded them which is a challenge. So, yeah we’re excited.
MH: On the tour this year, what are you pulling out of the bag of tricks that fans can really look forward to?
DL: Kerry suggested that we pull things out that we haven’t played and I suggested “Show No Mercy” and he said “we’ve played that.” And I said, “shit you’re right.” Who knows, maybe “Aggressive Perfector,” which is off of the very first, well no, it was the first song that we recorded, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. But there was talk about that. You know, we’re just going to look through the catalog and see which one’s we’re going to play. We’re gonna have to play the classics too and we’re going to put in some things that are gonna throw the fans for a loop.
DL: It’s going to be really hard, because there’s so many favorites, but I know we’re definitely going to do “American,” possibly “Snuff.” I think, “Beauty Through Order” and “Playing With Dolls.” We’ll see.
MH: You guys have come full circle with what you’ve done over your career.
DL: It’s really great when you have a band that’s been around for awhile and you can see your work getting better and better, and we are. We’ve kind of achieved it and it’s a good feeling. That’s kind of feeling that the band has right now.”
MH: Slayer is comprised of four larger than life personalities, how do you guys make that work for you as a band?
DL: When we all come together to that rehearsal room, we’re still the same guys that we were when we first got together. Some of us now are married and some of us were married. So we’ve gone through our different moments in life, some good, some bad. But we’ve all come around to understanding who we are individually and as a unit. Strengths and weaknesses. And we use that history and understanding to make ourselves better as a band.
MH: When you guys actually went into the studio to do World, you approached it differently this time. Instead of all coming in with your own pieces, this time you brought the ideas in and worked on them together.
DL: It was definitely a collaborative effort. We really stepped up, all of us, and not just brought our ideas, but we also listened to each other’s ideas and we made suggestions and we accepted those suggestions. Instead of brushing them off we said, “hey, let’s take a listen.” Doesn’t hurt to listen. And it’s either agreed upon or not agreed upon. And if one person gets knocked down, it’s like, oh well, next time. And it makes you work a little harder and bring ideas and try to make it work.
MH: Let’s talk about the future of Slayer. When you guys perform, it’s exhausting as a fan and a listener just to be a part of it so it’s gotta physically wear you out as well playing we’re going older…I know Kerry says that he still sees another album or two in Slayer‘s future…have you guys really talked about how much longer the band will continue to perform?”
DL: “No, there’s been no discussion. If anything’s been said by an individual it’s been like at the end of a tour or something when you’re really exhausted and worn down. You’re just flat out tired, and people are gonna say things like that. I don’t know about Kerry and Tom. I know with me, being the drummer, the fire is still there. You know in a band they say if the singer sucks it’s OK, but if the drummer sucks that night, then the band sucks, you know what I mean? At least the band was there and the beat was there so the crowd could sing along. I don’t see any type of letting up, at least for me.
MH: Slayer gets to play these huge festivals this year and for the first time in history, the big four are all playing together. What is that going to be like for you guys?
DL: I mean, I’m already excited about it, you know playing the huge festivals, especially with Metallica…We’ve never played together before– I mean one time, when Dave Mustaine was with the band, and Ron McGovney and Hetfield. That’s how long ago that was. Before their first album came out.
We’ve talked about it and people ask, what about Metallica and Slayer? I mean geez, we grew up sometimes really close to each other. I remember James, was raised in Bellflower, CA or somewhere in the southeastern part of L.A. and I was in that same southeast area and Jeff as well. So we all were in a general area, and Tom, so yeah, it’s exciting. I text Lars, and he texts me back and it’s great. We’re really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great time.